|IF ANY BODY WISHES TO LOOK THROUGH ST ANDREWS IN WESTBURY AT ANY TIME RING ALAN ON 0438999441|
Next market day 16th December 2017
--------- New stall holders are welcome.
this is an indoor and outdoor market and spaces are limited inside but we have plenty of room outside.
friendliest little market in
Breakfast usually starts cooking at 8 thereabouts.
Enquiries to Rob 0417 931 619.
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT 2017.
We always hear a lot from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah in Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the Birthday of Gods Messiah. Jesus, who came to be our Saviour, our Redeemer and our Sanctifier. by paying the price for the sins of the whole world, by his ignominious death on a Roman Cross. Today we hear from the middle section of the book, which was written about 200 years after the man called Isaiah wrote the first part. This was because it was a piece of undercover subversive literature, promising that the Jews who were trapped in Babylon would soon be set free. The nameless prophet was passionate about this. Earlier prophets had dealt with the complacence of those who were at ease in Zion, Their messages had been startling announcements of imminent calamity. But these poets/prophets, with whose words we are reading now, impart comfort to the un-hoping. They are among Gods most gracious messengers to his people. Their chief, the writer of chapters 40-55 of the Book of Isaiah, felt a ministry laid upon him to bruised reeds and dimly burning wicks.
I cannot help but identify with the situation in which he found himself and his people. Those of us who subscribe to Judaic/Christian religions are not very trendy at present. In this century, people once confident of advances gained by education, by idealism, by religious faith, are finding history raising obstacles in their paths. The course of events seems against them. Peace seems almost unattainable. Immense gains in knowledge and vast progress in science and technology, the rich accumulations of the centuries in culture only seem to render more pitiable an impotence to establish relations between races and nations which assure a decent future for the children of today and tomorrow.
Hopefully, this widespread sense of helplessness provides a welcome for a gospel of God such as the poet/prophets brought to Israel in the 5th and 4th centuries before Christ. John Buchan once said Religion is born when we accept the ultimate frustration of mere human effort, and at the same time realise the strength which comes from union with superhuman reality. (The pilgrims way. Boston: Houghton Miffin Co. 1940. P.296.) After the exile, the Jewish people saw their God as a God who saves. God had made a covenant to save them providing they obeyed his laws. They saw the exile as his punishment for their disobedience. They carried a heavy burden of guilt, and so the emphasis shifted from salvation from their enemies, to redemption from the slavery of sin. People do not like to be labelled as sinners. They feel insulted and resentful. Everyone, these days commits sexual sin, they think, and find it amusing, but they see murder and violence, as real sin, and not many people are guilty of that. So, God sends people like you and me to be voices crying in the wilderness with a different message of salvation. Many people realise that they are guilty of bad habits, such as overeating, drinking too much, minor addictions or just having a bad temper. We have to assure them that God can set them free, if they will ask him, but most importantly if they will let him.
The word used in the New Testament for salvation also means healing. In the time of Jesus, there were few doctors like Luke, who healed people with herbs and massage, but otherwise their only hope was prayer. In our enlightened age, we expect the doctors, usually, to heal without any spiritual assistance. However, most doctors would be the first to admit that they are not infallible, and also tell one that in many cases the mental attitude of the patient counts a lot in the recovery process. In our particular parish the ministry of prayer and anointing with healing oil is always available to those who are sick, or anticipating surgery, and we pray for the doctors and members of the healing professions.
Sadly, these days, death does not seem to be seen as a natural part of life. For some there is a great fear of death, and even of funerals. Many families find it hard to mention, even when they or their relations are dangerously ill. In one way this may seem kind, but really it is quite the opposite. It denies the dying, and also those facing bereavement, to prepare themselves for the parting, and establish good relations with each other, and with God. How often do I hear the words, Oh I would have just loved the opportunity to say goodbye. In our prayers and in our actions, We need to assure the dying that the love of Jesus is stronger than any other force in the world, and he will bring them salvation.
The first words of our reading from Isaiah 40:1,2 In The Bible for Today, has: - Our God has said: Encourage my people! Give them comfort. Speak kindly to Jerusalem and announce:
Your slavery is passed; your punishment is over.
I, the Lord, made you pay double for your sins.
We, as Christians, are called to bring comfort and Hope to all who are in need, sorrow, sickness or any other trouble. May Jesus give us the strength to do this.
With love and blessings,